Open Innovation – how to outrun other countries

August, 2016

This year the European Forum Alpbach held its Technology Symposium (25-27/08/2016) on the subject of “New Enlightenment”. Today, we live in a multipolar world that has become highly complex. Products, goods and services compete on a global scale and virtual networks and digitisation are tearing down boundaries in many fields. At the same time we see the limits of growth and of an unlimited use of resources. Science offers radically new insights while new questions are raised (see also).
In his speech “Open Innovation: New Enlightenment? Participation – Democratisation – New Solutions”, Jan-Robert Smits, Director-General for Research and Innovation of the EC, emphasizes that innovation is central to Europe's ability to achieve productivity gains, generate new jobs and economic growth as well as to tackle major challenges that our society is facing. Therefore, innovation plays a major role in delivering many of the Commission’s ten priorities:

  1. Boosting Jobs, Growth and Investment
  2. A Connected Digital Single Market
  3. Climate Action and Energy
  4. A deeper and fairer Internal Market
  5. A deeper and fairer Economic and Monetary Union
  6. A reasonable and balanced Free Trade Agreement with the US
  7. An area of Justice and Fundamental Rights
  8. A new policy on Migration
  9. A stronger Global Actor
  10. A Union of Democratic Change

Even if Europe is a world leader in some segments of the innovation process, there is clear need to up-grade Europe's innovation ecosystem, notably in the areas of private investment, the regulatory environment, market-creating innovation and scale-ups. To realise this, Open Innovation offers enormous opportunities.
OI is a core priority for the European Commission policy in the field of science and innovation. The intention of the EC is to create the appropriate framework conditions for innovation through three pillars (see also):

  • Reforming the Regulatory Environment (including application of an 'innovation principle')
  • Boosting Private Investment in Research & Innovation (including through a venture capital Fund of Funds and the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI))
  • Maximising Impacts (making room for disruptive, market creating innovation under Horizon 2020)
  • These measures will enable Europe to overcome its weaknesses, namely not only to being good at transforming Euros into know-how but also know-how into Euros, as Mr Smits puts it.